Powered by an economy that has hit its stride, and turbocharged by a long track record of innovation, North Carolina is America’s Top State for Business in 2022.
The Tar Heel State has always been a contender in CNBC’s annual competitiveness rankings, rarely finishing outside the top 10 since the study began in 2007. The state finished a close second last year. But 2022 is the first year it has been able to climb to the top.
What made the difference this year? For one thing, state leaders keep managing to put aside their very deep political divisions to boost business and the economy.
When Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed a deal in March with Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast to build a $2 billion factory in the state, State Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, were close at hand. The three had worked together, across party lines, to craft a $1.2 billion incentive package sealing the deal.
“VinFast’s commitment to North Carolina solidifies our position as a global leader for fostering innovation and supporting businesses,” Berger said that day.
It was not the first time the trio had worked together to craft a transformative deal. Last year, Apple announced it would build its first East Coast hub in the state’s Research Triangle region in exchange for as much as $846 million in incentives.
“This is what happens when we work together. This is what happens when people with different viewpoints, different thought processes, come together,” Moore said at the event announcing that deal in April 2021.
“We had a tough election in 2020,” Cooper said that day. “They tried to get rid of me, I tried to get rid of them. We ended up the same way we were. And I think we looked at each other and said, ‘This is what the people of North Carolina have voted for. We’ve got to work together to get positive outcomes for our state.’”
Sure enough, last fall, Cooper and the General Assembly finally came together to pass a two-year state budget — the first comprehensive spending plan since Cooper took office in 2017. This month, Democrats and Republicans came together again on adjustments for the budget’s second year, which the governor signed into law on Monday. And the two sides announced that they are close to a deal on expanding Medicaid, a bone of contention for as long as Cooper has been in office.
“Divided government is working in North Carolina,” wrote Alexander H. Jones in the blog Politics North Carolina in April, citing the incentive and budget deals as evidence. “Cooper and the Republicans have worked together hand-in-glove.”
“We disagree about plenty, and my vetoes have been able to stop a lot of bad legislation that has come forward,” Governor Cooper said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday morning. “But high-paying jobs for our people is something we have to agree upon.”
“I’ve had both Republican and Democratic leaders of both the House and the Senate on each side of me as we make a presentation to the company that this is where you need to be, you’re gonna get predictability, reliability, consistency,” Cooper said. “Businesses look for that and they also look at what happens after the deal is done. Does state government, local government continue to work with them and try to help them succeed. Some of our best recruiters are CEOs who are already here.”
Indeed, North Carolina’s solid finances are the cornerstone of the nation’s top Economy as measured by the CNBC study. The state’s credit rating is pristine; its fiscal balance is sound. Economic growth, at 6.7% last year, and job growth at 3.6% were among the strongest in the nation, according to government statistics.
But that is just the beginning of North Carolina’s strength.
The state ranks No. 2, behind only California, for Access to Capital. Having the nation’s second- and sixth-largest banks based in Charlotte (Bank of America and Truist Financial, respectively) provides a home field advantage of sorts. But North Carolina companies also attracted some $3.5 billion in venture capital investments last year, the sixth highest in the country, according to the National Venture Capital Association. And state grant and loan programs for business have gotten new life under the state’s bipartisan truce.
In Technology and Innovation, the home of the famed Research Triangle Park finishes at No. 5. North Carolina institutions are among the leading recipients of National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health research funding, and the state ranks high for cryptocurrency mining, a new factor in this year’s rankings.
And North Carolina ranks No. 12 for Workforce. That is a key attribute for NASCAR driver and NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is also a small business owner employing 140 people at Mooresville-based JR Motorsports.
“It’s easy for us to get some of the most talented people to work for our business,” he said. “We can’t win without great people. North Carolina gives us that opportunity.”
“Talking to CEO after CEO, workforce is the driving force for them right now,” Cooper told CNBC. “They see North Carolina as place where they can rely on our community colleges, our greatest array of public and private universities in the country to make sure they have the workforce they need.”
Where North Carolina falls short
No state is perfect, however. North Carolina ranks No. 28 for Life, Health and Inclusion.
The state long ago retreated from its controversial “bathroom bill” known as after intense criticism from business. In 2017, legislators agreed to repeal the provisions in the law requiring people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate. The rest of the law expired in 2020.
But North Carolina remains one of just five states with no law protecting nondisabled residents from discrimination, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In his CNBC interview, Cooper said the state does need statewide protections. “I am pushing for that,” he said, but he conceded it is one of his disagreements with political opponents. He noted executive orders to make sure the state is protecting LGBTQ+ rights, including a ban on any contracts with organizations that engage in conversion therapy. “We’re holding them at bay on cultural wars,” he said. “We are sending the right signals.”
Cooper also pointed to his cabinet as the most diverse in the history of the state, North Carolina being No. 1 among states in the percentage of women in the tech work force, and its position as the state with the most four-year historically Black colleges and universities, one of which graduates more black engineers than any state in country (North Carolina A&T).
The state also lags in two other important Life, Health and Inclusion metrics: per capita public health spending and hospital resources. Both are among the many areas where North Carolina’s explosive growth is straining resources.
On abortion, which the governor said led a film production to move this past week from Arkansas to North Carolina, Cooper said it would remain legal “as long as I am governor.” He has vetoed abortion bills, but added that he will need support in the legislature and votes in the upcoming elections to sustain those vetoes. “I will not back down on women’s rights. … businesses know they need to have their employees protected.”
Workers weigh heavily in rankings
The CNBC study measures all 50 states across 10 categories of competitiveness, for a total of 2,500 possible points. North Carolina scores 1,580 points to capture this year’s crown.
Our methodology assigns a weight to each category based on how frequently states cite it as a selling point.
In 2022, the Workforce category carries by far the most weight, with workers in painfully short supply. We have also retooled the category, measuring things like industry-recognized skills as companies look for states with a ready pipeline of the kind of workers they need.
“There is a stark need for people who have the ability to work not only with their hands, but then to troubleshoot that back across technology,” said Tom Stringer, managing director of the national site selection practice at BDO in New York.
Here are all this year’s categories and point totals:
- Workforce: 410 points (16%)
- Infrastructure: 380 points (15%)
- Cost of Doing Business: 345 points (14%)
- Economy: 325 points (13%)
- Life, Health & Inclusion: 325 points (13%)
- Technology & Innovation: 250 points (10%)
- Business Friendliness: 200 points (8%)
- Education: 165 points (7%)
- Access to Capital: 50 points (2%)
- Cost of Living: 50 points (2%)
This year’s runner-up is. The Evergreen State captured top honors in 2017 and became a consistent contender after that, but it dropped out of the top five last year when the study put more emphasis on business costs as the Covid pandemic waned. The renewed focus on Workforce in 2022 plays to Washington’s strengths.
Skyhobo | Getty Images
No state has a greater concentration of STEM workers (science, technology, engineering and math). One in 10 Washington workers makes their living in those key professions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But costs are still high in the state, leaving companies and families particularly vulnerable to inflation.
Finishing third is Virginia. The Old Dominion became the first back-to-back Top State for Business in 2021 on the strength of its education system and its workforce. But net migration to the state among college-educated workers has slowed, according to Census figures, hurting the commonwealth’s Workforce ranking.
Walter Bibikow | Getty Images
Colorado finishes at No. 4 on the strength of America’s top Workforce as measured by the CNBC study. Nearly 42% of Centennial State workers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the Census Bureau, making Colorado workers the nation’s second most educated (after Massachusetts). But those workers command some of the nation’s highest wages, hurting the state’s standing in Cost of Doing Business.
Rounding out the top five is Texas. The Lone Star State maintains its perfect record — it has never finished outside the top five, a feat unmatched by any other state. Not only is the Texas workforce outstanding, but it is also growing fast, as companies and people flock to the state.
When they arrive, however, they are finding a growing set of issues.
For companies, Texas has an increasingly bloated regulatory regime, according to researchers at George Mason University. That hurts the state’s Business Friendliness ranking.
Residents, meanwhile, have limited options for child care. Health-care resources are stretched, too, in the state with the largest percentage of people without health insurance. Texas is another one of the five states with no anti-discrimination law for nondisabled residents. And it is further chipping away at inclusiveness under Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
While multiple measures aimed at transgender youth and their parents have either died in the legislature or been stalled in court, the deeply controversial that went into effect this year has made Texas one of the most difficult states to vote in, according to researchers at Northern Illinois University.
Put it all together, and Texas finishes at No. 49 for Life, Health and Inclusion, dragging down its overall ranking. The state’s many other strengths keep it in the Top Five, just barely hanging on by 4 points over No. 6 Tennessee.
State movers and shakers
Allard Schager | Moment | Getty Images
This year’s Most Improved State is Oregon. The Beaver State rises 17 spots to finish at No. 18 overall. Like neighboring Washington, Oregon benefits from the CNBC study’s renewed emphasis on Workforce over costs. But the state’s economy has also bounced back sharply following the worst of the pandemic. Gross domestic product improved by 5.4% last year, following a 2.8% contraction in 2020.
Other improvements include Kentucky, rising 15 places to No. 26 thanks to improvements in its Workforce and Economy scores, and Vermont, jumping 11 spots to No. 31 with the help of a rising Business Friendliness ranking. This year, that category considers state support for emerging industries including cryptocurrency and cannabis, areas where the Green Mountain State excels.
On the downside, Connecticut and Maryland each fall 15 places (to No. 39 and No. 27, respectively). The states each decline in multiple categories, including Infrastructure, which for the first time considers cryptocurrency mining.
The biggest decline belongs to New Jersey, dropping 16 places to finish 42nd overall. The Garden State falls to dead last in the Economy category, including America’s least healthy pension systems, according to data compiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
If there are top states, there must be bottom states.
This year’s last place finisher is Mississippi.
While the Magnolia State offers the lowest cost of living and the lowest wage costs, it could be that you get what you pay for. Mississippi’s workforce is among the nation’s least educated, according to the Census Bureau, with the lowest concentration of STEM employees. It is also the least productive in terms of economic output per job.
Mississippi is also hurt by a glut of regulations, and by a lack of inclusiveness in state laws, including some of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation.
Abortion rights demonstrators gather outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., US, on June 24, 2022.
Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
While Mississippi is also at the center of the abortion debate with the restrictive law that the Supreme Court upheld to overturn Roe v. Wade, this year’s CNBC study did not consider abortion laws — they are still in flux in many states. So is businesses’ stance on whether the laws will play a major role in their location decisions.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves’ office did not respond to a request for comment after the rankings were released.
Where does your state rank? Check out the full list, and let us know what you think by posting on social media with the hashtag #TopStates.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports.
Is DuckDuckGo Safe? Your Comprehensive Privacy Guide
Explore the safety and privacy features of DuckDuckGo with this comprehensive guide. Learn how DuckDuckGo protects your online activities and keeps your information secure. Discover why DuckDuckGo is a trustworthy option for privacy-conscious users.
In an age where online privacy is paramount, users are constantly seeking secure and private alternatives to traditional search engines. DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, has gained significant attention for its commitment to user confidentiality. This article delves deep into the question: “Is DuckDuckGo safe?” We’ll explore the features that make DuckDuckGo a reliable choice for safeguarding your online activities.
Is DuckDuckGo Safe?
DuckDuckGo is a secure and private search engine that emphasizes protecting users’ personal information and search history. It employs several features to ensure your online activities remain confidential and shielded from prying eyes.
Privacy Protection Mechanisms
DuckDuckGo employs a range of privacy protection mechanisms to keep your information safe:
- No Tracking: Unlike mainstream search engines, DuckDuckGo does not track your search queries, ensuring that your search history remains private.
- Anonymous Searches: DuckDuckGo does not associate your searches with your IP address or create user profiles, guaranteeing anonymous searches.
- Secure Connection: The search engine enforces HTTPS encryption, adding an extra layer of security to your online interactions.
- Minimal Data Retention: DuckDuckGo retains minimal data related to your searches, and the data that is retained is not personally identifiable.
Search Result Quality
Despite its strong emphasis on privacy, DuckDuck-Go provides high-quality search results using its unique search algorithm. The search engine utilizes aggregated data from various sources, including Bing and Wikipedia, to deliver relevant results without compromising your privacy.
How Does DuckDuck-Go Ensure Safety?
DuckDuck-Go implements several measures to ensure safety while using its services:
- Smarter Encryption: DuckDuck-Go uses Smarter Encryption to establish a secure connection between your device and its servers, reducing the chances of data interception.
- Privacy Browser Extension: The privacy browser extension provided by DuckDuck-Go blocks third-party trackers, enhances encryption, and enforces secure connections, creating a safer browsing experience.
- Instant Answers: DuckDuck-Go’s Instant Answers feature provides direct answers to your queries, reducing the need to click on potentially unsafe links.
FAQs About DuckDuck-Go’s Safety
Can I trust DuckDuck-Go with my search queries?
Absolutely. DuckDuck-Go’s no-tracking policy and emphasis on privacy ensure that your search queries are not stored or tied to your identity.
Is DuckDuck-Go’s search algorithm effective despite not tracking users?
Yes, DuckDuck-Go’s search algorithm aggregates data from various sources to provide relevant search results without compromising user privacy.
Can I use DuckDuck-Go as my default search engine?
Certainly. DuckDuck-Go offers browser extensions and mobile apps that make it easy to set it as your default search engine.
How does DuckDuck-Go generate revenue if it doesn’t track users?
DuckDuck-Go generates revenue through advertising that is not based on user data. Instead, ads are contextually relevant to the search terms, ensuring privacy.
Is my personal information safe with DuckDuck-Go’s browser extension?
Yes, DuckDuck-Go’s browser extension enhances your online security by blocking trackers and encrypting connections, ensuring your personal information remains safe.
Can I use DuckDuck-Go on mobile devices?
Absolutely. DuckDuck-Go provides mobile apps for various platforms, allowing you to enjoy its privacy-focused search on your mobile devices.
In a digital landscape where privacy is a growing concern, DuckDuckGo stands out as a beacon of trust and security. Its commitment to privacy, no-tracking policy, and robust security mechanisms make it a reliable choice for those seeking a safer and more private online search experience. With DuckDuck-Go, you can explore the web with confidence, knowing that your personal information remains protected.
The Significance of Proper Support in Sportswear for Exercise
When purchasing exercise clothing, the aspect of support is often overlooked. Sportswear companies tend to prioritise features such as moisture-wicking materials and convenient pockets. However, we believe that support is a crucial aspect of dressing for workouts, as it ensures both comfort and optimal performance. Support can be seen as the intersection of sportswear and shapewear. Therefore, it is essential to understand the significance of appropriate support during physical activity and know where to find it.
The Shapewear Crossover
Supportive sportswear primarily functions through gentle compression. It maintains stability and keeps your body secure while you engage in physical activity. Common characteristics between Standard shapewear and sports bras can be found. Both utilise specialised, flexible materials to offer body support. They are also designed with minimal seams to prevent discomfort and ensure discreteness. Additionally, the emphasis on comfort remains consistent for both types of apparel. As a result, similar principles apply when it comes to providing optimal body support.
What kind of support should your athletic apparel provide?
When engaging in physical activities, it is important to wear clothing that provides stability, regardless of the intensity. Whether you are running a marathon or practising yoga, your Sports bras and briefs should not cause any discomfort or irritation. In this article, we will explore the areas of the body that require support from sportswear.
A sports bra is essential for any physical activity, regardless of intensity. It serves as the ultimate supportive sportswear, providing both comfort and stability. By minimizing excessive movement, it helps prevent discomfort in the breast and back areas. With the multitude of options available, finding the perfect sports bra style depends on factors such as your breast size, the type of sport you engage in, and your preferred method of wearing and removing it.
If you’ve ever dealt with back pain, you understand the significance of a well-fitting bra. A sports bra that offers adequate support helps minimize the strain on your muscles and ligaments, preventing discomfort and soreness in your back. Additionally, it alleviates upper back and shoulder pain commonly associated with the weight of larger breasts.
Those who possess knowledge on the matter may opt to provide support to their waist and stomach by wearing sports underwear or leggings. Both options are equally effective. It is advisable to seek out high-waisted compression garments with a wide waistband, as they contribute to the stability and strength of your torso, which is vital in preventing injuries. By promoting stability and offering support to the abdomen, these garments also aid in preventing chafing and can boost your confidence, allowing you to elevate your performance.
In recent years we’ve definitely seen a shift in the fashion industry, with influencers and celebrities placing pressure on the high street to make plus-size fashion more accessible for all. Nowadays, Sportswear is highly demanding as demonstrated by plus size UK influencers.
The advantages of wearing supportive sportswear
The support provided by activewear has a tangible influence on your sports performance and how your body reacts to exercise. It’s no wonder that many women opt for activewear as their everyday clothing choice.
The incorporation of compression panels in clothing such as high-waisted underwear or leggings can enhance your posture. Maintaining a strong and stable posture is crucial during physical activities to prevent injuries. Whether you engage in sports like tennis, running, or weightlifting, having adequate support around your torso can significantly benefit you.
The crucial aspect of effective sportswear is its ability to provide comfort. It is important to ensure that your sportswear does not constrict your breathing. To find comfortable and supportive garments, opt for those with extended panels made of lightweight fabrics that wick away moisture. These fabrics are not only lightweight but also provide support to your body while minimising the risk of chafing. Additionally, an increasing number of garments are being designed without hems, allowing them to sit smoothly against your skin without causing any discomfort.
Compression is commonly utilised in shapewear to create a desired figure, but in the context of sportswear, it can actually improve your performance. Whether it’s in the form of socks or leggings, compression technology promotes better blood circulation to targeted areas like your legs. This increased blood flow intensifies your exercise routine and contributes to faster recovery.
The finest athletic attire should not only prioritise fashion and technology. Its primary function is to provide stability to your core, enabling you to engage in activities comfortably and confidently. This underscores the significance of support, which is crucial not just during physical exertion but also in day-to-day life.
Exploring Alternative Sentencing Options: Understanding the Potential for No Jail Time in 2nd Offense DWI Cases in Texas:
While Texas has some of the most drunk drivers in the country, the state also has some of the strictest DWI penalties. Despite how common a Texas DWI and 2nd DWI can be (with over 30% of DWI convicts reoffending), a 2nd DWI conviction will land you at least 72 hours in county jail and possibly even a year. Although many will agree that the punishment fits the crime, a 2nd DWI charge can be a telltale sign of alcohol addiction, and can often require rehabilitation that a jail sentence cannot offer. Luckily enough, there are several ways you can avoid a conviction for a 2nd DWI in Texas to receive no jail time and focus on your rehabilitation.
An Expert DWI Attorney:
Since mandatory jail time can only be avoided by avoiding conviction, a skilled DWI attorney is crucial to any option you explore. A 2nd DWI charge requires the same amount of evidence as a 1st DWI charge, and can often be defended with the same tactics. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a DWI attorney may be able to scrutinize a field sobriety test, the administration of a breathalyzer test, or the constitutionality of a traffic stop. Always inquire about the potential for a successful defense before you set your mind on other options, as dismissal or acquittal is the only way to circumvent all penalties of a 2nd DWI in Texas no jail time. If an expert attorney determines that your case won’t fare well at trial they can petition for probation or a DWI court to proceed over your case, or negotiate a plea for you.
Many of Texas’ major cities offer a DWI court program as a way to avoid jail for DWI 2nd offenders or defendants who show signs of alcoholism. DWI court is similar to probation but heavily emphasizes rehabilitation. A program will typically involve common aspects of community supervision, routine attendance at outpatient programs, and meetings between you, a judge, a probation officer, and a counselor. If you do not abide by the court’s rules or mandatory programs your case can go back to court and you will likely go to jail. A DWI court program is at least a year, but the length and regimen can be augmented depending on a defendant’s progress. Upon a judge “graduating” you from DWI court your sentence will be fulfilled. DWI court not only allows you to avoid jail time but is known to reduce DWI recidivism rates by as much as 12%.
With Texas’ criminal justice system being notoriously arduous, nearly 30% of all DWIs are reduced to lesser charges to avoid the hassle of a trial. In cases without aggravating factors such as an enhanced blood alcohol concentration, a child passenger, or an accident, a 2nd DWI charge can be bargained down to a minimum sentence or reduced charges. To be considered for a plea deal, a defendant will usually have to show personal growth and remorse. This is typically done by issuing a statement to the court, installing an ignition interlock in your vehicle, or attending DWI education courses or outpatient. If you plea to a minimum sentence you will likely still face 72 hours in jail and probation. While it’s uncommon for a 2nd DWI plea deal in Texas to receive no jail time, this is not impossible if your charges are reduced to reckless driving or obstruction of a highway.
Don’t Drink and Drive:
72 hours in jail is considered the mandatory minimum sentence for a 2nd DWI conviction and those facing charges are unlikely to see no jail time. The only guaranteed way to avoid jail is to avoid drinking and driving. With a drunk driving fatality occurring every 8.5 hours in Texas and over 10% of Texans reporting involvement in a drunk driving crash sometime in their lives, don’t fall under the impression that you are immune to the consequences of a DWI. Always make sure that you have a designated driver or extra money for an Uber when you go out drinking, it can save someone’s life and protect your future.
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